Sudan wants AU summit moved after Malawi snubs Bashir

In a desperate move seen by many as typical tit for tat affair, the Sudanese foreign ministry has urged the African Union (AU) to move the July summit from Malawi to its Addis Ababa secretariat after Malawian President Joyce Banda said Sudan’s leader Omar al-Bashir was not welcome to attend.

Sudan’s foreign ministry said the meeting was of the “upmost importance” and that the presence if Bashir – who has been indicted for war crimes in Darfur by the International Criminal Court (ICC) required.

The statement says Bashir must take part in the summit, due on 9-16 July, because the agenda includes the ongoing tension between Khartoum and South Sudan which seceded in July last year after decades of civil war.

The Khartoum foreign office, according to the statement seen by Nyasa Times, further argued that Malawi’s decision to have al-Bashir arrested is in contradiction with position taken earlier by AU.

Bashir being welcomed by Malawi speaker of parliament Henry Chimunthu Banda. Photo; AFP

“We informed the pan-African bloc of our request on Wednesday to have the summit moved to Ethiopia after Malawi announced that Bashir would not be welcome at this summit, upon a claimed adherence of Malawi to its obligations to the so-called ‘International Criminal Court’,” the statement said.

AU has demanded for more time before it can respond to Sudan government’s demands.

President Banda said she wanted Bashir to stay away from the Lilongwe summit and send another top official to represent his country.

She also told senior British politician Andrew Mitchell recently, that Malawi’s security apparatus will not hesitate to arrest al-Bashir if he steps in the country in July.

The decision by Banda has sent shivers in Sudan amid growing fears that Malawi is not bluffing on the issue.

Bashir’s close senior military allies have since advised him to take President Banda’s threats serious.

Meanwhile, President Banda speaking in London at Chatham House on Thursday, said Malawi is now ready to host the 19th Extra-ordinary Session of the Assembly of African Union Heads of State and Government in Lilongwe.

“I am very pleased to announce that preparations are almost completed and  we are ready to host a historic and successful AU Summit,” she said.

Banda said the issue of intraregional and Africa trade will be the main focus of deliberations at the summit.

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